Mr. Krustok goes to USA (Part 3)

I’m sorry this took so long –  I mean I started writing this while still in the US but then I stopped. No particular reason. I was busy and then went to Estonia for my vacation etc. I just plain forgot about it. So here is the third and final part of my trip. Just so there is closure. 

I think it is about time I write about the actual reason I came here – the conference. As most of you probably know (at least somewhat) – I am studying microalgae. This conference was concentrated specifically on my are of study – The 4th International Conference on Algal Biomass, Biofuels and Bioproducts. As you can imagine, I was very excited.

I’m not going to go through all I heard and saw during the 3 days I was at the conference. Let’s be honest, you don’t care. I will however, say a few general things about the conference.

Let’s get the main thing out of the way first – I am absolutely pleased I came. The conference was very much what I needed at this point of my studies and specifically in the field I am interested in. I have been to more general energy and microbiology conferences before but this time I was with my people. It was refreshing to be able to speak to everyone about their research, explain my own and have a constant understanding between all parties involved. I got many good ideas, many good connections and had a lot of fun.

The conference was international but as you can imagine there were a lot of locals from New Mexico and from the US in particular. This was actually pretty cool as Americans are really easy people to talk to. You just walk up to them, strike up a conversation and they look like they are actually enjoying the conversation with you. And in a similar manner they will just come up to you and have a few good words. That made networking a whole lot easier.

My own presentation went well – at least that’s what I thought. I was calm, stayed in my time limit and at least from my perspective, gave an insightful and smart talk… Right… Anyway, the session chair seemed happy and the friends I had made seemed also satisfied with it. My talk was pretty much at the end of the conference and after it was over I had to leave to go check into a new hotel.

I had to stay in three different hotels while in the US. After the conference had ended the official hotel stopped giving the special discount and I decided it was better to get something a bit cheaper. It was a good idea as I got to experience more of Santa Fe that way.

I had made two new friends who had flown in from Sweden as well and we had quite a nice dinner after the conference was over. The portions were huge but I finally ended up trying a real American burger – although a gourmet one – with some sweet potato fries. My Swedish ID however was not proof enough for my age and I couldn’t get that alcohol free beer I had ordered.. Oh well…

The last day in Santa Fe was nice as well. I didn’t have to worry about a time schedule. I had a train to catch in the evening but for most of the day I was free. After getting up, I checked out of the hotel and took a bus (the routes were not on Google maps by the way) to the shopping area on the outskirts of the town. It is always fascinating for me to go to local malls and shops in other countries. It was especially exciting in America, as I was able to visit places like Target, Best Buy etc. that I have heard about but never experienced. To be honest, the trip to the shops turned out to be quite boring so I headed back to the center to have some lunch.

As a first treat during my day off I went to the Andrew Smith Gallery, which featured some of the most rare and important works by the famous photographer Ansel Adams. Some of the pictures really blew my mind. The contrast, the dynamics and the gradient of different shades of gray – some exceptional works indeed. Some negatives had been printed in different ways during different decades and it was interesting to look at the evolution. In addition to Ansel Adams there was also an exhibition from Joel-Peter Witkin titled “Love and other Reasons…To Love”. It was quite an interesting look into the grotesque. Some of the photos there I really loved. like this one for example. 

After the gallery I went to the New Mexico art and history museums that were also very interesting. The history museum in particular had a very nice display and started from before the Spanish settlers. It also had an interesting exhibition on pinhole cameras and there was actually a huge pinhole camera built in one of the rooms that you could step into. There was a hole in the wall and you could see the picture from the outside projected on the wall of the camera.

As a really nice end to my trip I also met the street musician I had seen a few days before again. We had another talk, I took a picture of him and he ended up giving me an Indian blessing, I didn’t know any blessings so I just gave him a Swedish handshake.

I think that’s about it really. I boarded the train. Got to Albuquerque in the evening. Had a real diner burger with some diet coke, slept for a few hours and boarded my first plane on my way back to Sweden. All in all, it was a really great trip.